Riesenbeck 2023: Brits take two Freestyle podium places in Paris precursor

  • Written By: British Dressage | Camille Peters
  • Published: Sun, 10 Sep 2023 19:49 GMT

Britain’s Lottie Fry and Charlotte Dujardin have achieved a history-making double podium in the Grand Prix Freestyle on the concluding day at the FEI European Championships.  

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The Freestyle to Music final at the FEI European Championships delivered spectacular results for the British riders, and provided the ultimate prelude to Paris 2024, as Europe’s best showed their hand and went head-to-head for the continental accolades.  

High praise must go to the full line up of 18 riders, the standard at this year’s event showed hard work and dedication paying off for plenty, as the pace begins to motor on with the final straight to the Olympic Games in sight. 

The Freestyle final also finally delivered the much-anticipated face-off between reigning World Champion and reigning Olympic Champion, as both Lottie Fry and Jessica von Bredow-Werndl brought their A-game to the concluding test. Host nation favourite Jessica would emerge the victor by just half a percent; as winner of both the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special, the gifted rider surely had momentum, but also delivered a spell-binding test in front of an adoring home crowd. For her romantic Parisian themed performance, Jessica and the 16 year old Trakhener mare TSF Dalera BB secured the title of FEI European Champion with a new European Championship record and personal best score of 92.818%. Jessica's week has truly represented ‘La Vie En Rose’.  

Lottie Fry and Glamourdale have shown the greatest of resilience this week, and made a phenomenal comeback in the Freestyle contest after missing the podium in Friday’s Grand Prix Special. Glamourdale looked tuned in and firing on all cylinders, even before he entered the arena to his trademark Queen programme, the twelve year old stallion oozed confidence and class. His test was outstanding, there were tens for extended canter, canter pirouettes and for the benefit of the artistic marks, the Lord Leatherdale-sired talent never missed a beat of his crowd-thrilling music. There’s no doubt that Lottie delivered a performance even better than that of the one in Herning twelve months ago that saw her crowned the youngest ever FEi World Champion; for her efforts, the 27 year old rider was rewarded with a new personal best score of 92.379%, another score that tops the former FEI European Championship Freestyle record.  

Speaking about her silver medal success Lottie commented, “He felt amazing today, he was loving it so much and I finally felt like we were back on track today – everything came together and it went so well, I couldn’t be more proud of him.”  

“The freestyle is so special,” Lottie continued discussing the emotional value of her iconic routine, “the first time we rode it was in Herning, and we’re still on only our fourth or fifth ride of it! When the music starts I think everyone feels it, it’s incredible music to ride through. I was so excited and happy it all came together.”  

Becoming the second British rider on the podium, and the third rider to break the former European record, Charlotte Dujardin completed an immense week adding a second individual Bronze medal to her 2023 collection. Imhotep, owned by Carl Hester and Coral Ingham, has been a revelation in Riesenbeck and performed only his third ever Grand Prix Freestyle with plenty of pizazz and personality; a well-suited music programme from the film Madagascar captured the bouncy chestnut’s spirit, as Charlotte described him as ‘Alex the Lion’ after the film’s main character. The technical aspects of the test showed Pete’s strengths in delivering metronomic work akin to that of predecessor Valegro; the piaffe and passage earned strong marks, as did powerful changes and lateral work presented on steep, complex lines. At only his second major championship, the future talent earned 91.396% to the delight of his masterful rider: “There are so many experienced horses here, horses that have been doing it for years; he went to Herning last year as a nine year old and here he is at the Europeans, doing this, I can’t believe how well we’ve done this year.” 

“For British Dressage going forward for next year, you can’t ask for more – we've done fantastic, the para riders have done fantastic, we’ve had such an incredble week and I’m just looking forwad to next year.”

Carl Hester completed a day of historic results for the British trio qualifying for the Freestyle final with seventh place and 85.461% on board Fame, a commendable effort for the combination’s first Grand Prix Freestyle attempt. Riding to strong, punchy pop music, Carl gave the thirteen year old stallion a superb ride, as he has on each appearance in the arena this week. Fame has abundant talent in the collected work, and showed this throughout his performance; a break in one extended trot was the only error to hamper the scores, that were consistently delivering eights and nines in reward of impressive work.  

“I can’t believe he was that good today, he’s not done it before and it was just great. The freestyle has a good degree of difficult, I knew by the end of the week he would be really on my side so that’s why I went for it. I’m very happy, that was the perfect way for it to finish.”

“It’s really exciting, I can just feel the trust that I have for him and he has for me – I did go in there today feeling like I didn’t know what he would do, and I pushed him out there more today – I knew there was more in there; for the Speclal but I didn’t go for it as I didn’t want to disturb his relaxation. It’s a shame for the blip at the end in the extended trot...that was just me being greedy. I’m finishing the season in a really good way!”

The British Equestrian team conclude their week with no fewer than nine medals across the senior and para competition at the FEI European Championships; an impressive feat as the squad and their support team continue to build towards the big date in the diary in Versailles next year. With two horses on the individual podium, a historic team gold banked and inspired individual performances by every rider flying the British flag; we can look ahead with great excitement and look back with immense pride.  

The funding that the British Equestrian World Class Programme receives from the National Lottery and UK Sport is pivotal in preparing our teams for achieving success at senior championships and supporting them on the ground. The British Equestrian teams are supported by partners – Bates Saddles, Dodson & Horrell, Fairfax & Favor, Haygain, NAF and Toggi – and team suppliers – Equi-Trek Horseware, Lotus Romeo, Marksway Horsehage and Point Two.   

Individual placings – top ten

1. Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera BB, 92.818% (GER) 
2. Lottie Fry and Glamourdale, 92.379% (GBR) 
3. Charlotte Dujardin and Imhotep, 91.396% (GBR) 
4. Nanna Skodborg Merrald and Blue Hors Zepter, 89.546% (DEN) 
5. Isabell Werth and DSP Quantaz, 88.407%% (GER)  
6. Therese Nilshage and Dante Weltino OLD, 86.132%% (SWE) 
7. Carl Hester and Fame, 85.461% (GBR)  
8. Carina Cassøe Krüth and Heiline’s Danciera, 84.664% (DEN) 
9. Frederic Wandres and Bluetooth OLD, 84.568% (GER)
10. Isabel Freese and Total Hope OLD, 82.593% (NOR)

Photos: Kevin Sparrow Photography